FAQs and Technology

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Your firmest assurance of achieving the best vision possible is choosing a skilled surgeon who is using the most advanced technology available. Since Bellevue LASIK & Cataract is privately owned, Dr. Leavitt has always been free to choose the best technology for his patients.

Each generation of newer technology solves issues that earlier technology could not address. The lasers used today at Bellevue LASIK & Cataract achieve significantly better results, with greater patient comfort, than earlier systems.

The Intralase™ Blade Free laser, and the Visx S4 IR™ excimer laser, produce the best results Dr. Leavitt has ever achieved.

The flap-creation step in earlier LASIK procedures was performed using a vibrating hand-held blade called a microkeratome. With the advent of the blade-free Intralase system the hand-held blade was eliminated, resulting in more accuracy and greater patient comfort.

The most advanced excimer laser systems

Earlier excimer lasers achieved startling results, but they were occasionally accompanied by night vision issues and their technical limitations meant that some patients could not be considered good candidates which prevented many would-be LASIK patients from enjoying the benefits of clear, natural lens-free vision.

Dr. Leavitt employs the Visx S4 ™ with Iris Recognition. What does this mean to you? It means that the state-of-the-art technology available at Bellevue LASIK & Cataract can treat the unique characteristics of your eye that create your myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism and resolve them rapidly and with the highest accuracy possible.

Visx S4™ with Iris Recognition Broad Beam Excimer Laser

  • Delivers benefits of Iris Registration (IR) which compensates for eye movement
  • Conserves tissue by optimizing treatment times and minimizing thermal effects on the cornea
  • Minimizes additional time for wavefront-guided custom treatment over conventional treatment
  • Eliminates the need for dilation; laser tracks on the natural pupil
  • Adjusts for movement with ActiveTrak™ to further improve treatment accuracy

WaveScan® iDesign System for LASIK

WaveScan® iDesign System for LASIK is a system that measures your eyes with more than 1,200 micro-readings, which is then transferred to the laser in order to provide advanced precision and accuracy in surgery. This system captures several different types of measurements of your eyes in a one-time, three-second scan.

The iDesign technology works by measuring several different variables, including corneal topography, pupil size and dilation, and keratometry. By gathering detailed information and sending it all directly to the laser, the equipment provides high-quality results and increased precision of laser eye surgery. Often there are details that surgeons could not even see prior to this technology. Even the most complicated cases are easily executed with the iDesign system, which decreases the chances of error in complex procedures.


Common Questions About LASIK

1. What are the risks?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared LASIK safe and effective for most people. Of the 14,000,000 Americans who have had LASIK since the 90s, experienced surgeons have reported a less than 2% complication rate. Those complications were mostly related to quality of vision issues such as dry eyes and reduced night vision – not loss of vision – and even these have been significantly reduced by advances in laser technology.

There is more risk from ignoring the simple postoperative medication directions than something going wrong during the procedure; however, confirming you’re a proper LASIK candidate in the first place is the best assurance that you will have a successful outcome.

2.  Are contact lenses safer than LASIK?

Both are equally safe, although some studies have reported increased risk of infection from contact lenses due to prolonged wear and poor maintenance, such as forgetting to take them out when you sleep. The main reason contact lenses cause problems is because of the hassle factors: forgetting your cleaning solutions, overlooking the need to sterilize them or having them slip while you’re driving.

LASIK, on the other hand, is a permanent, no-maintenance solution to poor vision due to refractive error. As Dr. William Mathers at the Oregon Health & Science University reported: “One shouldn’t just assume that contacts are safer than LASIK. This may have been true at one time, but for the average person this is certainly not the case anymore.”

3. Can I really get rid of my glasses?

Most patients age 18 to 45 do not need prescription glasses after LASIK. After 45 a different vision condition comes into play (presbyopia) as a natural result of aging. Because of presbyopia, most people need reading glasses whether or not they have had LASIK. Even presbyopia can be effectively minimized through a special LASIK technique known as Monovision which has given thousands the ability to see both close up and far away.

4. Will LASIK work for me?

Most people over age 18 who suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism can be helped with LASIK. Particular physical or medical factors such as corneal thickness or various forms of systemic disease may rule someone out as a LASIK candidate . But the only way to know for sure if LASIK is the answer to your poor vision is by having a full and comprehensive LASIK examination with a reputable doctor.

5. Will it hurt?

LASIK in the hands of an experienced surgeon is virtually painless.

You can expect to feel just the slightest sensation of pressure during the procedure. Inserting or removing contact lenses or just rubbing tired eyes from wearing glasses can produce more discomfort than an all-laser LASIK procedure. After a good night’s sleep most patients awaken to the joy of seeing the world clearly and without lenses – usually for the first time in many years – and without the discomfort and irritation of lenses.

6. When can I return to work?

Most people are able to return to work within 24-48 hours of their LASIK procedure.

Immediately after the procedure you’ll be asked to go home and take a nap so the healing process can get off to a good start. You’ll also be given eye drops to prevent infection and minimize inflammation. The best way to avoid any time off work is to schedule your procedure on a Thursday, have the whole weekend to test drive your new vision and start work again on Monday.

7. Is all bladeless LASIK the same?

All-laser or blade-free LASIK is the best known and most popular refractive correction procedure and is performed only by an ophthalmologic surgeon. This is different than PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) or ASA (advanced surface ablation), which is a procedure that skips the step of creating a flap altogether, and is most commonly reserved for patient’s who may not be candidates for LASIK because of thin corneas.

8. What if I blink or move during the procedure?

Sometimes patients worry that they will affect the surgery by nervous or uncontrollable twitches or jumps of their eyes, called saccadic eye movements. The lasers used in LASIK are married to an ultra-high speed eye tracking system with a response time of milliseconds – much faster than your eye can move. This eye tracker completely neutralizes these eye movements and turns the laser off instantly the moment the eye is out of the treatment zone. There is nothing you could do to cause a problem during the procedure.

9. What about nighttime side-effects?

Most of us have night vision issues whether we have had LASIK or not. However, you may have seen news stories about people having difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery. Night time side-effects are rare and may include halos, starbursts, glare around lights and blurry vision. These effects, if they occur, usually diminish as the eye heals in the first three months. In extreme cases additional enhancement procedures might be recommended.

However, advanced LASIK technology has helped minimize the chance of this side-effect and many patients even report improved night vision after LASIK.

10. Does the type of technology matter?

Yes it does – but less so than the personal track record and expertise of the surgeon performing your procedure. Newer LASIK technology solves issues that older technology couldn’t address. One of the greatest changes due to ongoing technological breakthroughs has been an increase in the number of patients who are now considered candidates.

But the best assurance of a successful outcome is by choosing a doctor who has an excellent personal track record, a local reputation for excellence and who takes a personal interest in each patient at every step of the way.

11. Should I wait for the cost to come down?

Unfortunately, the cost of LASIK has been rising since the 90s and is likely to keep on rising.

Even with today’s highly advanced technology, LASIK is definitely a hands-on, personalized service requiring highly trained surgeons and staff. The few minutes of the procedure are the tip of the iceberg compared to the behind-the-scenes involvement of technical personnel, their training, facilities and procedures for patient care, and the programming and maintenance of the computers.

Although some centers quote attractive (and misleadingly) low prices, the truth is that as with anything in life “you get what you pay for” and 20/20 vision that you may enjoy for many decades does come at a price.

The good news is that the one-time cost of a high-quality LASIK procedure can be very affordable once low-interest payment options bring the numbers down into a comfortable range.

12. How do I  choose the best doctor?

This is definitely the most important question of all, once you’ve decided to consider LASIK. Although LASIK is sometimes marketed as a commodity, it is a medical procedure and the skill and care of the surgeon are the most significant issues.

  • Look for a local surgeon who will personally oversee every step of the procedure and take the time to answer all your questions. Remember, the only “dumb” question is the one you don’t ask.
  • Ensure you feel at ease with the surgeon and his staff and that you’re being treated with the respect and care that you deserve.
  • Don’t accept excuses or discouragement on this point or be misled by low prices offered – they’re usually not genuine.

13. What if LASIK is not right for me?

LASIK is a medical procedure that requires specific physical and medical conditions to be met before it can be considered “right” for any patient. Age, general health, eye health and thickness of cornea all play a part in ensuring a LASIK applicant is a good candidate.

At Bellevue LASIK & Cataract, Dr. Leavitt rejects 10% of applicants for LASIK because of physical or medical factors. However, if it is determined that LASIK is not right for your eyes, Dr. Leavitt is highly skilled in providing the following alternative vision correction options:

PRK/ASA

People whose corneas are too thin for LASIK can sometimes receive PRK or ASA (Advanced Surface Ablation). During PRK/ASA no flap is created. Instead, a small area on the corneal/epithelium (surface cells) is gently polished away to give access to the layer below, where the reshaping is done. The laser then reshapes the cornea in exactly the same way as in LASIK surgery.

Although the visual outcomes of PRK are comparable to LASIK, the recovery times are usually a little longer and some patients experience slightly more discomfort during the healing process. Dr. Leavitt will tell you if ASA/PRK is the best procedure for your eyes and, if so, you can still look forward to as good an outcome as with LASIK.

Refractive Lens Exchange (IOLs)

Refractive Lens Exchange is a non-laser corrective procedure in which the natural lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens, called an Intraocular Lens (IOL). Refractive Lens Exchange is a permanent and maintenance-free vision correction option with a quick visual recovery time. If you are over 50 this may well be your best option for correcting near and far vision, and laser vision correction can even be used to “fine tune” this treatment for superb results. IOL surgeries take 10 to 15 minutes per eye and can solve the continuing decline in vision after age 50 that eventually leads to cataracts.

Phakic Intraocular Lens (ICL)

A Phakic Intraocular Lens (ICL) is like a permanent internal contact lens. This procedure can be used to treat a wide range of nearsightedness and reading vision issues. The procedure involves implanting an ICL in front of the eye’s natural lens, leaving the eye’s lens in place. This technique is for people with very strong prescriptions or thin corneas.

If you have additional questions about LASIK, or if you are ready to take the first steps in the process, contact us today to schedule your free LASIK Consultation.